I was watching this commercial for ITV Player, which allows you to watch ITV shows freely on the Internet. The one thing I asked was “why would anyone want to watch that?”, because as far as I know, ITV is basically crap for older people. But then, it hit me. Advertising is about persuasion.
Think about it. If you didn’t want to buy a certain product, and then you do, that’s because you’ve been influenced by a persuasive commercial. The purpose of an advert is to persuade you into buying or believing something, and there are ads for other purposes too, such as donating to charity.
Some have compared this to brainwashing, and maybe it is. After all, a good advertisement will raise awareness of a product and make you want you want to buy it. The big problem, however, is that many advertisements are completely dumb.
Come to think of it, lots of ads I’ve seen can be quite dumb, and appealing only to people who don’t think for themselves. Unfortunately, this is most of the general population. The dumber you are, the more likely you are to be swayed or influenced by messages of a certain kind, whether they may be commercials, public service announcements, charity ads, or even political campaign ads.
In today’s commercialist society, we are bombarded by advertising so much, that we can’t escape it. Don’t think you can just escape it by going without TV, because it’s everywhere. It’s on billboards, flyers, in movie theaters, and even the internet. Corporations and advertisers don’t want you to not be advertised to, because it means you aren’t being brainwashed by ads and buying their crap.
At this point, one must wonder why governments aren’t doing anything about this? That’s easy, because the government and the media are in cahoots. Politicians need to get their message across, and advertising is the best way to do it. If that’s the case, then it would be stupid for them to attack a medium they rely on to survive.
I have a feeling that large corporations are actually scared of the idea of a smarter society. After all, if we’re all smarter, then we’ll be too smart to fall for any sort of commercial or political messages. So, through Hollywood and celebrity culture, the media aims to discourage intellectualism, and exalt shallowness, recklessness and stupidity.
In an age of commercialism, are our minds really well-guarded from persuasion by commercial messages? Tragically, no, but if we work on it, we can learn to see beyond them.